Wants city to be more supportive of WYAA

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By The Staff

To the editor:

I have lived in the Williston area now for almost four years. My child has been involved in sports at the WYAA for that period of time. I, as well as my wife, have been involved at the WYAA either as coaches or volunteers for that amount of time also. To start off with I am fully aware and appreciate the city’s contributions via the grants the park has received. The major reason for this letter is my frustration with a city council that really feels it is not their obligation or responsibility to minimally help maintain the park by mowing the fields for the kids. This past weekend at a soccer tournament hosted by the WYAA, I noticed kids trying to kick the soccer balls in knee high grass. The sad part is people from other cities were just making fun of our city that we can’t take care of our park…that is embarrassing.

I have attended city council meetings where I heard everything from “why don’t you sell hot dogs to buy a mower” to basically “oh well, figure it out yourselves”. Putting it all back on the WYAA.

I fully understand that the city of Williston does not have to do anything for that park and the kids. But what is required and what is right sometimes are not the same. My understanding is that the city and the WYAA have had a good working relationship for many years. Why the change all of a sudden? The only day to day operations at the park the WYAA has asked the city for is to mow the fields when necessary and to pick up the trash cans. Occasionally, the prisoner crew has been requested to help with clean up and even that has been taken away. The WYAA pays its own electricity to the city, insurance, maintenance and repairs, and is currently trying to find a way to get off the city’s water onto its own well.

The city claims the cost is too high for them to mow, but yet they expect a volunteer run organization with a very minimal budget to absorb that cost. I laugh at that cause let’s take a look at some potential cost scenarios for the city…

1. WYAA is unable to properly maintain the fields. My understanding is the grants require that the facility must be maintained for 25 years in proper order or all the money must be repaid by the city to the state of Florida. That puts the city paying over $500,000 back to the state.

2. WYAA dissolves. My guess is if the city cannot afford to simply mow grass, how could they afford to staff a parks and recreation department and fully maintain a facility full time. Due to the existence of the WYAA the city does not even have to fund or operate any sports leagues for the kids of the community.

As you can see, either scenario results in the city of Williston incurring a lot more expenses compared to an occasional mowing.

As a parent, I feel if the city will not help, it will lead to increased registration costs. I have spoken to various people before about this situation and have heard everything from I don’t have a dog in this fight to we don’t know why they won’t mow. Personally I could care less about politics, personal issues, or disputes between adults. This is for the KIDS…don’t we already take away enough from them.

I am not saying the WYAA is perfect but at least they try. Remember, these are parents volunteering their free time after work and on weekends to run a rec league that in other cities is run by full-time paid employees. All I hear from kids is I cannot wait to get out of this city cause all this city ever does is treat its kids like second class citizens. This is out of the mouth of 11 and 12 year olds. Don’t be fooled, one day these kids will grow up and ask themselves why would I want to raise my family there so my kids can get from the city what I got…nothing.

The bottom line is simple to me. Can we act like a community and work together for a better good than ourselves? We are simply talking about mowing grass. Just a fact for you…Williston had more baseball and softball teams participate this year than any other city in our league. So if you think this park is not important, you’re wrong. Add in the soccer kids and what would these 400 kids do without this rec program? Sports and social interaction I believe are big parts of growing up, so let’s help the kids achieve this. There are volunteers who do a lot at the facility. We are just looking at our community leaders and saying “hey how about a little help here”.

I have written this letter on behalf of myself. These are my opinions as a parent and coach only. As a city council you will do whatever you want. I hope you choose to help the kids.

Nick Damiano

For the Kids